In response to WordPress prompt luxury
The plan was a week long backpacking trip in the Rocky Mountains. The preparation and planning consumed many days and sleepless nights. Each item carefully considered for its necessity and double if not triple function.
I read countless books on the subject and considered, albeit briefly hollowing out my toothbrush to save weight.
I took all food items out of their original packaging to save space and weight, marvelling at the volume of packaging rendered redundant.
The pack weighed in at 45 lbs and only one last item remained, my personal luxury item. I chose my Olympus camera to record the journey. I’ll never forget the freeing feeling of strapping my pack on my back and knowing that every item was necessary and I truly had all I needed. It’s odd, I felt light at that moment.
During the trip I fantasized about any number of items that would have been nice to have, a luxury at the time. A glass of wine after a long hike, a warmer coat when it started to snow, a hamburger when I tired completely of dehydrated food and good old raisins and peanuts.
Still, as I look at photos from that trip I know my choice was right. How blessed to hike in the back country surrounded by mountains, wildflowers, and cool mountain streams. What a luxury to be able to record the moment and freeze it in time where years later, I am transported by those photographs and remember a cool breeze, the weight of my pack and how soothing the cool mountain stream was on my sore feet. I remember the pine bough structure we built to keep busy during a cold, wet day, the alternative was feeling bitter and cold. How lovely our home was, warm, inviting complete with socks drying by the fire. At that moment I felt as though all my needs were met, luxury indeed!
We continue our tour of Stone Town. My heart and spirit lightens as we walk away from the slave market and towards the vibrant market.
There is a richness of colour with the many spices, clothing and foods for sale. People shop daily as there is inadequate refrigeration, likely due to the antiquated electricity. I think of our home with its over sized refrigerator and extra freezer both filled to capacity for two. The contents difficult to see, too much choice leads to too much waste.
In Stone Town the food is fresh and the people close to their food. It’s disconcerting to see fish, chicken and beef still attached to its source. The fresh meat smells assault. We are removed from this at home. The animals we consume are typically pumped full of hormones. Our markets bright, meat safely stowed in a foam container, cleanly covered in plastic wrap. Our health suffers amidst the sterility.
There are so many flies here, munching on the fish and chicken flesh. I quickly decide if I lived here I would become a vegetarian. We round the corner and I see some grapes, though on closer inspection they are covered in flies. There are no fly zones here, a keep away fly stick does its best amidst the fruit. The fruit and vegetables seem small and less than perfect, though closer to reality. The majority of what we see would not make its way into our large supermarkets, though it would go for twice the price in an organic market, the price out of reach for most. In Stone town, everyone eats fresh, organic produce.
Zanzibar is the spice island. There are many vendors selling spices, the delicious smells of no interest to the flies. We linger and peruse the many options. The smells pungent, our mouths water with the possibilities. Prices are reasonable and we buy in bulk to share with friends and family at home. We hold fresh cinnamon bark, the size of a tree limb, and learn how it grows. I think of my cinnamon dust at home, with its dear price, lack of aroma and glass jar.
We have learned so much today. We are fortunate to live where we do with our choice, clean water and reliable electricity. Still, in our want of convenience, variety and beauty I wonder what we are sacrificing in health. There is much to ponder.